HANG Seng Index futures went nowhere for the 15th day running. The August contract actually saw a high of 9,460 in morning trading, up 100 points on the previous 9,360 close. Rumours of downgrades in profit forecasts from Peregrine Brokerage hurt sentiment and selling took the contract on a big dive to the low of the day of 9,322. It closed at 9,322, down 35 points and a premium over the cash of 21 points. The September contract was marked down 30 points to 9,330 in no trading. Turnover in August futures was at 10,967 contracts, up from 6,000 contracts on Monday, but the total remained pretty modest in relative terms. There were only 641 lots traded all day as big investors stayed away ahead of key economic data from the United States, including producer price and consumer price index information, at the end of the week. Investors appear to think the market will stay in a coma because implied volatility in index options slumped below 20 per cent for only the second time in three months to 19.5 per cent. Since July 19 the futures have traded in an historically narrow band of 205 points between 9,290 and 9,500. Retail trading at the end of the day in futures, and during the whole of the day in index options, accounted for the vast majority of activity. Open interest in index futures for Monday saw 40,095 contracts. There were 603 contracts in September and 50 contracts in December. In index options, the open interest on Monday in August had 4,289 calls and 4,432 puts. In September there were 2,563 calls and 1,378 puts. In December there were 2,563 calls and 1,378 puts. In March, 1996, there were 52 calls. Implied volatility, at-the-money, in September was 23 per cent in calls and puts. In December it was 25.5 per cent and December 1996 was 26.5 per cent. With implied volatility so low, there are opportunities for volatility players to continue to pick up puts and calls, or buy straddles in a bet on a rise in volatility during a month in which HSBC Holdings and Cheung Kong announce results, and there is a meeting of the United States Federal Reserve Open Markets Committee.